Mumbai City FC’s 2019/20 Hero ISL came to an end after a late goal from former Islander Lucian Goian helped Chennaiyin FC leapfrog the Islanders to the 4th and last playoff spot.

Boss Jorge Costa had Amine Chermiti back in the line up after the Tunisian missed the loss at Goa due to suspension whereas Sourav Das was preferred in the middle of the park in place of Bidyananda Singh to support Rowllin Borges. Chennaiyin FC went in with the same line up that beat ATK last time around only to get a late injury blow as Schembri was ruled out and Dragos Firtulescu replaced him before kick-off.

The visitors started on the front foot in front of a vociferous Mumbai crowd as the first minute saw Rafael Crivellaro breakthrough on the right-wing but his low cross was cleared away by Pratik Chaudhari before it could reach its intended target. This chance also saw Sourav Das going down due to an injury. Our No. 5 looked in some pain until the physios attended and bandaged his foot.

The sixth minute saw a close offside call against Modou Sougou but he was a little early to reach Rowllin’s searching ball. Most of the game in the first ten minutes was played in the middle of the park with Rowllin winning loose balls quite easily. The Chennaiyin wingers had a few chances from the wings but their crosses were quite wayward.

On the 15th minute, Diego Carlos broke through and chased a long ball down with Renthlei accompanying him. The Chennaiyin defender had a slight push on the Brazilian which took him down. There were strong penalty appeals from the Islanders but to no avail as the referee waved off any protests and pointed his finger to the corner flag.

It was a cagey affair in the first half with fewer key moments but another chance popped up in the 25th minute with Mohamed Larbi finding Diego Carlos on the right flank. Our No.18 took a strong shot at goal but his effort was parried out by Vishal Kaith. The attack did not end there as the ball again fell kindly on the right wing for Diego Carlos who put in a dangerous cross only for Chermiti to blaze it over the bar from close range.

On the 31st minute, the fans at the Mumbai Football Arena had their hearts in their mouth as Amrinder Singh was down in his box with a bleeding face after colliding with a CFC player. There were concerned faces on the pitch and in the stands but the physios were quick to do their job and Amrinder, the warrior he is rose again with a bandage wrapped on his head.

With no clear-cut chances for both sides, the first half was heading to a close. Both teams were involved in a scrappy tussle for possession in this high octane game. The referee blew the whistle after four minutes were added as a result of Amrinder’s injury on the 31st minute and Sourav’s treatment on the very first minute.

The second half began in the very opposite manner of the first half with tackles being frequent between both sides. Jerry Lalrinzuala was the first player to be booked after his tackle on Modou Sougou caught the referee’s attention and did not hesitate to book the Chennaiyin defender.

The 52nd minute started an eventful phase in the match after Vishal Kaith brought down Amine Chermiti outside the box. A through ball was played to the Tunisian who chose to run himself at goal with Sougou for support but the Chennaiyin goalkeeper slid in to bring Chermiti down. What could have been a straight red card offence was just a yellow card one for the referee after he was surrounded by blue shirts. A lucky Vishal Kaith got away with a warning much to the dismay of the Islanders.

The resulting freekick from Larbi was blocked and the ball fell kindly for Chhangte to run through one-on-one against Amrinder Singh with Sourav Das chasing him. Our No.5 brought down the Chennaiyin winger and was given the marching orders by the referee. The Islanders were furious that Vishal Kaith was not sent off for a similar offence as Sourav Das walked off.

Another big chance arose in the 59th minute as Diego Carlos took a long corner to find an unmarked Amine Chermiti. The Tunisian hit a looping header right at the face of goal but his header was cleared away for another corner by Nerijus Valskis.

Another Islander was booked in the 65th minute with Md. Rafique being booked for a challenge on Chhangte but the biggest chance of the night came on the 67th minute of the match when Amine Chermiti was set free by a dreamy pass from Diego Carlos. He was one-on-one with the keeper, all the Tunisian had to do was hit the target but he poked his shot wide. It was a HUGE chance passed.

Being a man down, the Islanders were dominating the game and possession as the game progressed into the last 20 minutes.

Boss Costa made the first change of the night as Sougou came off after pulling his hamstring and Bipin Singh replaced him in the 76th minute. The very next minute saw captain Amrinder straight into the action after Thoi Singh collected the ball to set up Germanpreet Singh who flashed a shot at our stopper. Our No. 1 made a great low save to keep the score level.

The second change for the Islanders came in the 81st minute as Larbi came off and Bidyananda Singh came on chasing a goal. The biggest moment of the match came in the 83rd minute after Rafael Crivellaro’s corner towards the near post was flicked by Nerijus Valskis straight to Lucian Goian. The CFC Skipper ran to the far post and took a first time shot to score for the visitors.

The goal gave Chennaiyin huge belief to go on and grab another one as Crivellaro’s corner was punched out by Armrinder Singh and the ball fell to Germanpreet whose goal bound effort was cleared away by Pratik Chaudhari, who was at the right place at the right time. As the clock reached the 90 minute mark, the referee added 5 more minutes giving more hope of an equaliser to the Islanders.

Mumbai City FC won a corner in the very last moment of the match as Amrinder also joined the attack but the ball was punched out by a charging Vishal Kaith and later cleared away. As the final whistle was blown, the Islanders were left heartbroken as their Hero ISL journey came to an end in front of the home faithful.

The defeat ended the Islanders roller-coaster journey this season. It wasn’t a memorable 100th Hero ISL game for the boys as they went down fighting at the Mumbai Football Arena.